Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Mad (2007) and Sars Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis (2004)

The zombie comedy is actually a rather old thing. Starting in the 40's with movies like the Bela Lugosi vehicle "Zombies on Broadway", it wasn't until the 80's that mixing the two together became more popular thanks to the likes of "Re-Animator", "Return of the Living Dead" and "Night of the Creeps" among those that thought mixing gory zombie mayhem and black humor would make for a fun concoction. This continued well into the 90's, and really kicked in the last decade thanks to "Shaun of the Dead." Unfortunately, not everyone in the post "Shaun" era of zombie movies have been able to do a zombie comedy successfully-many have failed or come up short. Cases in point are "The Mad" and the Thailand zombie flick "Sars Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis."

"The Mad" tells the tale of Jason Hunt (Billy Zane), a former rock star turned doctor and family man. When he and the family decide to stop at a bed and breakfast, only to see their vacation turn bad when an infection brought forth by meat patties begins turning the locals into flesh eating zombies.

"The Mad" isn't really a detestable movie, but it's not a good one either. While the cast is game (especially Billy Zane), the whole thing just feels generic. There isn't a whole lot of excitement to have with the movie either, because many of the jokes tend to tank (a few made me chuckle) and it doesn't really go far enough. There's moments of gore, but for a movie with an "Unrated" tag, it sure feels tame. It basically suffers from both trying too hard to be campy (the whole concept of killer burger patties) and not doing anything that hasn't been done before.

Better (but also not spectacular) is "Sars Wars", a movie with a premise that's too out there to resist. A Fourth generation version of the SARS virus has come to Thailand, and it turns people into zombies. Meanwhile, a schoolgirl named Liu (Phintusuda Tunphairao) has been kidnapped, and it's up to Khun Krabii (Supakorn Kitsuwon), a dimwitted man to save her.

What "Sars Wars" does have going for it is a manic energy and some surprisingly funny jokes ("Zombies, a bomb and a Giant Snake? This movie is really aiming for some cash!"), as well as some decent gore and zombie action to boot. Unfortunately, it also has it's share of jokes and humor that falls flat. One of the problems is the use of comical sound effects and bad slapstick humor that annoys more than amuses. Even worse is the sexual humor, which falls flat. While it's obvious that the movie is trying to entertain audiences and make people laugh, and it's got plenty of enthusiasm to boot, it's kind of hard to fully appreciate the hit and miss nature of the humor and movie at hand, making for an uneven viewing experience.

As they stand, nobody should really hate "The Mad" or "Sars Wars", but there isn't a whole lot to remember about them either. Sure, the two movies aren't the bottom rung of the zombie movie ladder, but they aren't exactly at the top either. They are just...kind of there.

Rating: "The Mad" (4/10) and "Sars Wars: Bangkok Zombie Crisis" (5.5/10)

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